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What Is Coronary Artery Disease?

Coronary artery disease makes it harder for your arteries to carry blood to your heart. Your coronary arteries are located close to your aorta and give your heart its own supply of blood. Over time, plaque can build up inside these arteries and make your arteries narrower. This can make it harder for blood to travel through your arteries and reach your heart.

If enough blood doesn’t reach your heart, you may have a heart attack. For this reason, coronary artery disease is also called:

  • CAD,
  • coronary heart disease,
  • atherosclerotic heart disease, or just
  • heart disease.

Atherosclerosis is a condition that causes the blood vessels in your heart to narrow when plaque builds up inside them.

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Coronary Artery Disease Symptoms

Coronary artery disease can cause different symptoms and conditions depending on how severe it is. Patients may have:

  • no symptoms,
  • chest pain, or
  • even a heart attack.

Because the disease is caused by a fatty build-up in the arteries around the heart, it can be prevented. Cardiologists can treat this condition in all its forms and help patients understand how to prevent it.

Patients at the Cardiovascular Center will receive the best treatment from specialists who are also conducting cutting-edge research. This means the patient will receive the best care through the best techniques available.

What Is the Treatment for Coronary Artery Disease?

There are several types of treatment for coronary artery disease. Treatments range from making healthy lifestyle changes to having surgery. Which treatment your doctor recommends will depend on your lifestyle and other health factors.

Treatments may include:

  • healthy lifestyle changes (including exercising, losing weight, and eating a low-fat diet);
  • medications (like blood thinners or statins);
  • non-surgical procedures like percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI); or
  • surgery like coronary artery bypass surgery.

What Is PCI/Percutaneous Coronary Intervention?

A percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is a non-surgical procedure used to treat coronary artery disease when the arteries to your heart are blocked. PCI used to be called having angioplasty with a stent.

During a percutaneous coronary intervention, your doctor will use a small tool called a stent to widen the narrow blood vessels in your heart. Opening up these blood vessels helps blood flow better to your heart, which reduces chest pain and fatigue. Your doctor will use a catheter (a thin, flexible tube) to place the stent inside your heart.

If you are a patient at the Cardiovascular Center, you will be treated by cardiothoracic surgeons who are experienced in both cutting-edge surgical techniques and research into the newest treatment possibilities.

Our surgeons also work closely with a collaborative team of caregivers and nurses to provide the best care: from the first visit where the patient is diagnosed to their checkout from a hospital stay.

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Visiting & Staying at the Hospital

Are you visiting or staying at University of Utah Hospital for your medical care? Get all the info you need for your visit—including how to get here, where to stay, where to eat, and more.

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Can Coronary Heart Disease Be Cured?

Coronary heart disease can be managed in a number of ways. Dr. Tom Miller and cardiologist Dr. James Fang sit down to discuss some simple things you can do to effectively manage your coronary disease, and even try to prevent yourself from getting it in the first place.

Prevent Coronary Artery Disease